|General Don José de San Martin, Pancho Villa & Emiliano Zapata|
| Pancho Villa & Emiliano Zapata circa 1914 - Photo by Agustin V. Casasola|
It is difficult to decide where one is from when one has
lived in many places.It depende on the day and my mood.
I was born in Buenos Aires in 1942, moved to Mexico City in
153, moved to Nueva Rosita, Coahuila in 1957, in 1958 spent four years at a boarding
school in Austin, Texas. I returned to Mexico City. In 1964 I went to Buenos Aires to do my military service in the Argentine Navy. In 1967 I returned to Veraceruz. That year I met my Rosemary in Mexico City. We were married in Coyoacan in 1968. With our two daughters we lived in Arboledas, Estado de México. In 1975 we drove to Vancouver in our VW. I have lived here since.
My daughters Ale and Hilary just returned from Huatulco, Oaxaca and brought me a fabulous T-shirt with Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa on the front and on the back.
Incredibly the shirt brought me memories of an Argentine general of the 19th century, General Don José de San Martín.
These three men have something in common that has been rare for hundreds of years. Around 1914 Villa and Zapata took Mexico City. Agustín V. Casasola photographed the pair sitting in the presidential room of the government palace in the Zócalo. After the photograph the two went home.
José de San Martín, liberated what would become Argentina from the Spaniards, with O’Higgins he did the same in Chile (crossing the Andes with heavy canon in a feat comparable to the one by Hannibal crossing the Alps with elephants). From there he and his army were ferried by Lord Cochran to Callao in Peru and he liberated it.
He had a meeting with Simón Bolivar (nobody knows what they talked about) and from there he took a ship to Boulonge-sur-Mer. He lived there until his death and his body, only then, was returned to Argentina.
When I was 8 in Buenos Aires, I was in the second grade. Early in the year we were all given a lovely book/pamphlet called El Legado de San Martín. The general had died August 17 1850 so the book celebrated his 100th anniversary of his death.
It is impossible for me to forget 1950 as we were instructed to write on the top right hand side of all our notebooks and our deberes (homework) 1950 – Año del Libertador General San Martín.
I find it astounding that 73 years later I still have the legado.
On page 27 his XLVIII memory states (below) & (my translation)
"I promise and swear in name of the independence of my motherland to never exceed my present military rank, nor to obtain public employment, and I will renounce my present military rank the moment in which all our people in America no longer have enemies."
My country of Argentina has suffered over 100% inflation in 2022 and there are many poor people and a reduced middle class. The two political parties are at each other’s throats. The blue dollar (black market dollar) since Rosemary and I went to BA in 219 has gone up from 164 pesos to now almost 400.
There is one place I always go to when I visit Buenos Aires. I go to the Metropolitan Cathedral on Plaza de Mayo and enter the general’s mausoleum that is always guarded by two tall Granaderos the San Martín. In all the many years that I have entered that cathedral nothing has changed inside. It is the only place with stability in the whole country.
This is why I celebrate Villa, Zapata and San Martín. Thinking about them gives me a measure of stability in these unsettled times.